Children can be picky eaters, making it challenging for parents to find foods their kids will consume. Family dinners are challenging enough, but lunches kids will love can be even more difficult to come by.
Parents can prepare lunches kids are certain to devour by thinking outside of the traditional lunch box. Using some creativity and building off of kids’ favorite foods is the key.
Make it miniature
Mini versions of kids’ favorite foods can be entertaining and entice children to try things they normally wouldn’t. If it’s fun-sized, it can be swallowed in one bite. Think about mini sandwiches cut into fun shapes with a cookie cutter. Or use little condiment cups to hold chicken salad, soup or yogurt.
Give kids a bit of a buffet inside of their lunches. This way, if something isn’t tickling their taste buds, they still have other healthy options at the ready. This technique also ensures that kids will not get hungry after skipping meals. Lunch buffets do not have to be complicated. Include half of a sandwich, a piece of fruit or an applesauce cup, some trail mix, and a granola bar. Look for complex carbohydrates and protein so that little bellies will feel full.
Go with what works
If a child really enjoyed the previous night’s dinner, offer up a repeat for lunch the next day. Some schools have a microwave where hot foods can be reheated. If that’s not available, invest in a thermos or a durable, insulated container that can keep the foods at a comfortable temperature. Lunchtime at school occurs not too far into the day, and it’s feasible that food can still be warm if heated right before leaving the house.
Sneak in some nutrition
If kids are bound to eat the same thing over and over again, mix it up in subtle ways. Add a slice of tomato to a plain cheese sandwich and serve it on whole-wheat bread for added nutrition. Blend cauliflower into mac-and-cheese so it’s barely noticeable. Add flavor to lunch meats with a piece of bacon. Bake up nutritious cereal bars on your own that pack a nutritious punch and could have pureed fruit as the base.
Breakfast for lunch
Most kids go ga-ga over breakfast foods. Use that to your advantage, sending them in with egg-bacon-cheese bagel sandwiches, or some cereal to which they can add milk bought from the cafeteria. Thin pancakes can be rolled and stuffed with fruit in a crêpe style that makes for a tempting treat.
Rely on school lunch
School lunches shouldn’t be dismissed. When the pantry and refrigerator simply aren’t offering up the right inspiration, let children try something provided by their schools. They may like the menu, and that will save you time and effort in the morning. Plus, many school lunches are designed to be nutritionally balanced.
Picky eaters frequently make meal creation challenging. However, with some ingenuity, kids’ lunches can be enjoyed and savored.